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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Michael J. Kardoes, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired)
January 10, 1972 – June 03, 2022
Lt. Col. (USAF, ret.) Michael J. Kardoes, 50, of Livingston, Montana, died on June 3, 2022.
Michael, son of Oliver and Lanita Kardoes, was born in Buffalo Center, Iowa. He grew up on a farm north of Titonka and graduated from North Iowa High School. He attended the United States Air Force Academy, graduated with a BS in computer science, entered pilot training, and received his pilot wings.
He married Nicole Kardoes. Michael was active-duty Air Force for 23 years where he was an UH-1 “Huey” pilot. Notable assignments included squadron commander at Malmstrom AFB, legislative liaison in Washington, D.C., and deputy group commander in Afghanistan. Michael received a bronze star for heroic achievement and service in Afghanistan. After his military retirement Michael switched careers and became city manager of Livingston, Montana, in 2017. Michael had three master’s degrees.
He is survived by his wife of 27 years, Nicole Kardoes; his six children, Ryan, Jillian, Rebecca, Linda, John, and Monta; his parents, Oliver and Lanita Kardoes; his siblings Anthony (Shelly) Kardoes and Tamara (John) Crookshank; and his two nephews, three nieces, and their spouses and children.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 10, at Livingston Christian Center, Livingston, Montana. A memorial and interment service will be held in the future at USAFA in Colorado Springs.
A fund has been established in honor of Michael Kardoes to support the Kardoes family to help them get through this unexpected tragedy. Michael leaves behind a loving wife and six children. Follow this link to provide your support: https://livingstonchristiancenter.churchcenter.com/giving. On the Giving page, use the dropdown menu to select “Michael Kardoes Memorial.” All funds will go directly to the family.
Franzen-Davis Funeral Home and Crematory has assisted the family. To view the tribute page and leave condolences, visit: www.franzen-davis.com.
Livingston City Manager Michael Kardoes died unexpectedly Friday morning at Livingston HealthCare, confirmed Park County Coroner Al Jenkins. Kardoes was 50.
The coroner did not disclose the cause of death.
“We are still looking into it,” said Jenkins.
Kardoes became city manager of Livingston in 2017. He is survived by his wife, Nicole, and six children ages 12 to 21.
Kraig Hayden, lead pastor at Livingston Christian Center, where the Kardoes family are members, said he was devastated by the loss of his friend.
“I knew Michael very well,” said Hayden. “He was a leader of leaders. He was a rock and trusted confidante to many, many people.”
Originally from Titonka, Iowa, and a veteran helicopter pilot in the United States Air Force, Kardoes oversaw the daily operations of the city of Livingston and enforced the policies adopted by the five city commissioners. His duties included supervising all city departments, preparing an annual budget, and appointing task board members.
“The job of city manager was a job that Mike was well suited for,” said Hayden. “He was an active member of the church, and he was active in so many areas.”
“He was way too young,” said City Commissioner Quentin Schwarz. “This is very tragic.”
Reached Friday by telephone, City Attorney Courtney Lawellin said she didn’t have much information to share.
“We are still in the process of notifying the staff,” she said. “This is just horrible. He was a good man and I enjoyed working with him.”
Among some of the awards Kardoes received during his tenure as city manager include the Equity and Inclusion Award for Cities under 10,000 in 2021 and the Bob Worthington Risk Management Achievement Award in 2020.
Kardoes graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a B.S. in computer science. He also earned Master of Science degrees in both computer systems administration and command, control, communications, computers and information systems, and a master’s degree in public administration. Prior to becoming city manager, Kardoes served 23 years in the U.S. Air Force as a UH-1N “Huey” pilot. His duty stations included Cheyenne, Wyoming, Minot, North Dakota, Great Falls and Washington, D.C. He served as a Squadron Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, Legislative Liaison to the U.S. House of Representatives, Director of the Operations Division of the Air Force District of Washington and Deputy Group Commander, and was deployed to Al Udeid, Qatar and Shindand, Afghanistan. His awards include the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and Humanitarian Service Medal.
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